Oncology nurse Tricia Seaman has always done her best to comfort her patients towards the end, but her life took on a whole new meaning when she met Trish Somers, a terminally ill cancer patient.
Seaman and her family were trying to adopt a baby at the time, but she found the process overly complicated. She soon learned that Somers was a single mother with an eight-year-old son named Wesley, who was her whole world.
In the hospital, Somers shared her fear and concerns with Seaman. She became increasingly afraid of what would happen to her son if she were to pass away. That’s when Seamen realized this was no ordinary nurse-patient relationship.
One fateful day at UPMC Community Osteopathic Hospital in Harrisburg, PA, Somers looked up at Seaman— whom she’d only met three weeks earlier — and said, “I want you to take care of my son when I die.”
Eight years later, Seaman and her husband Dan are still raising Wesley just like Somers wanted. It was their way of honoring Somers and her commitment to her son. Adopting him also fulfilled their desire to raise a child.
The couple even took Somers into their home, where she spent the last few weeks of her life.
“I often worried that with her illness, the noise and hustle and bustle of our home would bother her,” Seaman said. “Just the opposite! She said many times, ‘I love being in the middle of all the action!’
Somers passed away in December 2014 from a rare vascular cancer — known as epithelioid hemangioendothelioma. That’s when Wesley became a permanent part of the Seaman family.
“It just became very clear, very fast that this is what we were meant to do,” Seaman, 49, recalls. “We all just clicked. We just fell in love with them.”
They didn’t formally adopt Wesley until six years later in 2020 but he started living with them as soon as Somers’s health took a turn for the worst.
“I can’t even begin to describe how lucky and blessed I am,” says Wesley, now 16-year-old. “I’m grateful every day that they made the decision to take us in.”
But accepting the loss of his biological mother wasn’t easy. Wesley spent months in grief counseling after Somers died. He says he is now leading the life his mother wanted him to have. The teenager just got his driver’s license and landed the lead in his school play.
“They mean everything to me,” says Wesley, who also has a part-time job at a local milkshake shop, which is fitting considering how much Somers loved ice cream.
“He’s growing up and moving on. I’m just incredibly proud of him and eternally blessed to be a small part of his journey — and it’s something I’ll honor until I draw my last breath,” Seaman adds.
She has written about what it was like to raise another woman’s child.
“I wanted to learn as much about her and her life as possible. I asked every question imaginable about Wesley as a baby and toddler, trying so hard to have as many answers as I could to give him as he grew into a young man. I wanted to be able to tell him if he took a pacifier, slept on his belly or back, all of those things that a mom would know. Maybe he would never ask those questions, but if he did, I wanted to be prepared,” she said.
Seaman says she and Wesley were both ultimately able to learn and grow with each other as the years went on. And now the two couldn’t be happier.